West Aurora Defeats Naperville Central in DVC Opener
By Steve Nemeth
What was an early see-saw battle tipped in West Aurora's favor thanks to Blackhawk victories in three of the final four bouts during Friday's 37-25 tangle with Naperville Central in Aurora.
The Blackhawks, No. 10 in the latest Illinois Matmen 3A ratings, also used a 3-1 edge in major decisions and a forfeit to come out on top in an early DuPage Valley Conference meeting of two previously-unbeaten squads.
The setback gives Naperville Central's Redhawks a 3-1 ledger heading into Saturday's Wheaton Warrenville South Mega Duals, which will also feature 4-0 West Aurora.
The rest of that field in that competition includes Lockport, Neuqua Valley, Rockton Hononegah, Oswego and St. Charles East.
"Collectively this was a very good dual meet win for us," West Aurora coach Mike DiNovo said. "They're well-coached and some of their skills showed us where we have work to do.
"In some of the matches we didn't win, points were a little stingy to come by, but the positive was that we continued to wrestle tough and kept those decisions from being majors against us."
West Aurora opened the night with four points from Greg Jacquez, Illinois Matmen's No. 11-rated 145-pounder.
The junior, who took first in the Ed Ewoldt Invitational, put together an 11-3 triumph over Kyle Miller.
After a scoreless opening period at 152, Naperville Central's John Graeber started in the down position and escaped before showing some impressive riding skills for his 1-0 decision over Alex Contini.
The Redhawks then gained a 6-4 lead when 160-pounder John Mixen earned a 14-7 victory over Derek Lehmann.
West Aurora's Brandon Warren, also rated No. 11 individually, used a nine-point third frame for his 14-4 major over Colin Guttosch to put the Blackhawks momentarily ahead at 8-6.
Thatís because Redhawk Luke Roth allowed Aaron Hett to escape twice in between a trio of takedowns in both the first and third periods of his 15-6 major decision for a 10-8 NCHS lead.
"I was impressed with our heavies and getting a major at 215 followed by a pin gave us some important points," DiNovo noted.
Javonte Black's 18-5 major over Will Damron at 215 was followed by a 1:53 pinfall from Austin Beebe against James Mitchell to jump the hosts ahead 18-10.
Blackhawks fans were ecstatic when 103-pounder Omar Delatorre got a takedown and two-point nearfall for a 4-0 first-period advantage over Naperville Central's Ryan Porter.
After Delatorre was unable to escape during the second period, Porter opted to go neutral to start the third and managed to turn a takedown into a 5:19 pinfall that stunned the host fans.
"I was a little concerned when he got those early points and I saw the zero on my side heading into the last period," Porter admitted.
"But coach is always stressing conditioning and this was an example of that paying off in the long run. Once I found his weakness it was just a matter of turning him and I kept with it until I got him."
That also got Naperville Central back to within two points at 18-16. But that's when West Aurora's No. 12-rated Brandon Walz came through with a stick of his own, needing just 1:08 to flatten Dylan Gross.
"While 103 was a great match, that fall at 112 was key for us," DiNovo said.
Although Naperville Central's Steven Splan answered back with a 3:01 pin over Andrew Gust, the eight-point gap was restored when the Redhawks forfeited at 125.
"For us, Steve Splan showed a lot of heart in a great individual battle. I thought he was aggressive early and stayed aggressive," Naperville Central coach Rob Porter insisted.
"Unfortunately as a team we didn't always do that. The biggest lesson for us today is that we have to be more aggressive on our feet. I thought we had good shot defense, but we've simply got to get more leg attacks."
Nate Zinzer's 6-4 decision over Kirk Cherep at 130 was followed by Marcus Serrano's 13-3 major over Andrew Meder at 135 to put the victory on ice for West Aurora.
Although the 15-point deficit made the final 140-pound contest moot in terms of the overall match, it proved to be the evening's best battle.
The Blackhawks' Nathan Pealstrom, ranked No. 9 at 140, not only turned a 4-2 first-period deficit into a 5-4 lead, the West High junior appeared to be taking control over Naperville Central's Josh Tardy, listed No. 4 by Illinois Matmen for the 135 weight class.
But after a minute injury timeout, Hardy escaped and added a takedown for a 7-5 heading into the final two minutes. The Redhawk senior chose the down position and tallied a reversal before Pealstrom escaped.
After another Tardy takedown, Pealstrom got free again but not with enough time to avert an 11-7 loss.
"I came down a little hard on my forehead and felt a little woozy, but I was also determined not to lose," Tardy said. "Refocusing after the timeout, the escape and takedown made me believe I was in control.
"He's a solid wrestler, so I knew I still had to keep working to the end, but that's how you get a good victory.'
The positive finish for Naperville Central, and knowing there's plenty of season ahead, gave Redhawk boss Porter reason to shrug off the overall defeat.
"That was a real chess match between those two. While you never want to lose a conference dual, we know we'll see them again and again; at Hinsdale Central, in the conference meet and the postseason, as well.
"So right now we're filing away some lessons for later," Porter concluded.